Salmon Florentine Orzo

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Easy creamy Salmon Florentine Orzo is a satisfying dish that pairs tender, flakey salmon with spinach and lemon-infused orzo pasta, creating a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

Grilled salmon fillets seasoned with spices on a bed of spinach and orzo pasta in a skillet.
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A skillet containing orzo pasta with spinach and three pieces of grilled salmon on top, placed on a wooden surface.

One Skillet Salmon with Lemon Orzo

On busy weeknights I have a few go-to easy recipes that can be whipped up in a flash and this simple salmon skillet with spinach and lemon orzo is one of them. This one pot wonder has a harmonious blend of flavors, the milk buttery richness of salmon meets creamy garlic with a backdrop of spinach and orzo pasta. I add herbs for a subtle hint of thyme and a sprinkle of parmesan gives it a bold flavor.

If you are not a fan of salmon you can substitute another type of fish or even chicken. I will sometimes mix things up by topping the orzo in my favorite lemon caper butter Chilean seabass. Anyway, you make it this fish and pasta mash up is always a winner!

Pan-seared salmon fillets on a bed of spinach and orzo pasta in a skillet.

How to Make Skillet Salmon Florentine Orzo

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Salmon fillets (4) – Salmon fillets are the star of the dish, offering a rich, tender texture that absorbs flavors beautifully.
  • Sea salt (1 tsp) – Sea salt enhances the natural flavors of the salmon and helps balance the dish’s overall taste.
  • Black pepper (1 tsp) – Freshly ground black pepper adds a subtle heat and complexity to the creamy orzo and spinach mixture.
  • Paprika (1 tsp) – Paprika imparts a gentle, smoky flavor that complements the delicate taste of the salmon.
  • Garlic powder (1 tsp) – Garlic powder brings a robust garlic flavor more consistently than fresh garlic, seasoning the dish throughout.
  • Onion powder (1 tsp) – Onion powder provides a concentrated burst of onion flavor without the texture of fresh onions, making it perfect for smoother sauces.
  • Olive oil (1 tbsp) – Olive oil is used for its healthy properties and smooth flavor, ideal for sautéing the onions and garlic.
  • Unsalted butter (1 tsp) – Unsalted butter adds a rich, creamy texture to the orzo, making the dish more decadent.
  • Yellow onion (1) – Yellow onion offers a sweet base flavor that deepens upon sautéing, enhancing the overall savoriness of the dish.
  • Garlic cloves (3) – Fresh garlic is essential for its pungent flavor that infuses into the orzo and spinach, offering a sharp contrast to the creamy elements.
  • Dry orzo pasta (1 cup) – Orzo pasta, with its rice-like shape, perfectly absorbs all the flavors of the sauce and complements the flaky texture of the salmon.
  • Dried thyme (1 tsp) – Thyme adds a slight minty and earthy note that pairs wonderfully with the lemon and garlic in the recipe.
  • Low sodium chicken broth (3 cups) – Chicken broth enriches the orzo with a deep, savory flavor, far more complex than water alone could provide.
  • Baby spinach (5 ounces) – Spinach brings color, nutrition, and a slightly earthy flavor that complements the creamy texture of the orzo.
  • Lemon (1/2) – Lemon adds a fresh, zesty burst of citrus that cuts through the richness and brightens the entire dish.
  • Parmesan (½ cup) – Parmesan cheese melts into the orzo, giving it a salty, nutty flavor that is irresistible.
  • Ground black pepper – A second sprinkle of black pepper can be added just before serving to enhance the dish’s spiciness and aroma.
  • Chili flakes – Chili flakes introduce a mild heat that adds a pleasant warmth to the dish, invigorating each bite.

Use this Method

Prep. Get your prep done before you start cooking: Grate the Parmesan cheese, finely chop the onion and mince the garlic cloves. Pat the salmon fillets dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.

Sear Salmon. Heat oil and butter over medium high in a large nonstick pan or skillet. Add salmon fillets and sear, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Cook Onion. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and onion. Cook until soft and fragrant for about 2 minutes. Stir in thyme and the remaining salt and pepper. Add orzo and toast for 1 minute.

Heat Liquids and Cook Pasta. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. To maintain a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered while stirring occasionally to prevent the orzo from sticking, until almost al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes.

Add Veg and Acid. Add spinach, stir and simmer until wilted for about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and Parmesan. Add more broth, if needed. Taste and adjust salt.

Finish and Enjoy! Return salmon to the skillet and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the salmon is heated through. Top with freshly ground black pepper and chili flakes. Enjoy!

Three pieces of grilled salmon on a bed of orzo and spinach, served on a blue plate.

Tips and Tricks for Making Salmon Florentine and Orzo

Choose the Right Salmon: Opt for fresh, high-quality salmon fillets for the best flavor and texture. Skin-on fillets can help keep the fish moist during cooking.

Season Well: Don’t skimp on seasoning the salmon. Use salt, pepper, and a touch of garlic powder to enhance its natural flavors.

Preheat the Pan: Ensure your pan is preheated before adding the salmon for a nice sear that locks in flavor and creates a slightly crisp exterior.

Cook Salmon Perfectly: Cook the salmon on medium-high heat, starting skin-side down, and flipping only once to avoid breaking the fillets. The salmon should be cooked until it’s just opaque in the center.

Use Fresh Spinach for Florentine: For the Florentine part of the dish, use fresh spinach rather than frozen for better texture and flavor. Sauté it quickly in garlic and a bit of olive oil until just wilted.

Deglaze with White Wine: After cooking the spinach, add a splash of white wine to the pan to deglaze and pick up any flavorful bits left from sautéing, which adds depth to the dish.

Flavor the Orzo: Cook the orzo in chicken or vegetable broth instead of water for added flavor. Adding lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice after cooking will give the orzo a bright, fresh flavor that pairs well with the salmon.

Combine Ingredients at the End: Mix the orzo and spinach together with a bit of Parmesan cheese for creaminess and season to taste before serving with the salmon.

Garnish Wisely: Garnish the dish with extra lemon wedges and a sprinkle of fresh herbs like dill or parsley to enhance the flavors and add a touch of color.

Serve Immediately: Serve the dish hot right after cooking to enjoy the best texture and warmth, making it a comforting and hearty meal.

FAQ’s

How do I prevent the salmon from drying out?

Cook the salmon over medium-high heat and avoid overcooking. Typically, salmon takes about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Keeping the skin on while cooking can also help retain moisture.

Can I use frozen spinach instead of fresh?

Yes, you can use frozen spinach. Thaw and squeeze out excess water before adding it to your dish to avoid making it watery.

What type of salmon is best for this recipe?

Opt for fresh, wild-caught salmon for the best flavor and texture, though farm-raised salmon works well too. Look for fillets that are bright in color and firm to the touch.

Can this dish be made ahead of time?

While best served fresh, you can prepare elements of the dish ahead of time. Cook the orzo and prepare the Florentine sauce in advance, but the salmon should ideally be cooked just before serving to maintain its quality.

How do I ensure the spinach doesn’t become too wilted?

Add the spinach at the last moment, cooking it just until it begins to wilt, which will preserve its color and texture in the dish.

How can I make this dish creamier?

Stir in a splash of cream or a dollop of cream cheese into the orzo after cooking. This will give the pasta a richer, more luxurious texture.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover salmon Florentine orzo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Pan-seared salmon fillets on a bed of orzo and spinach in a skillet, placed on a wooden table with a cloth underneath.

What to Serve with One Skillet Salmon Florentine Orzo

Roasted Asparagus: The earthiness of asparagus complements the mild flavor of salmon. Roasting it with a little olive oil and salt enhances its natural sweetness, providing a nice contrast to the creamy Florentine.

Garlic Bread: Garlic bread is great for mopping up any leftover sauce and adds a crispy texture to the meal. The robust garlic flavor pairs nicely with the milder ingredients.

Caesar Salad: A fresh Caesar salad, with its creamy dressing and crisp romaine, offers a refreshing bite that cuts through the richness of the salmon and creamed spinach.

Sautéed Mushrooms: Mushrooms sautéed in butter or olive oil bring a deep umami flavor that can stand up to the bold flavors of the Salmon Florentine.

Grilled Zucchini and Squash: Lightly grilled zucchini and squash provide a healthy, low-calorie side that adds color and variety to the plate without overpowering the main dish.

Cucumber Salad: A light cucumber salad dressed with vinegar and herbs can cleanse the palate and refresh the taste buds between bites of the rich salmon and orzo.

Lemon Risotto: For those who prefer a starchier side, lemon risotto can be a creamy and citrusy complement that echoes the lemon notes in the orzo.

Steamed Broccoli or Green Beans: These green vegetables add a crunchy texture and a pop of color to your plate, plus their mild flavors won’t compete with the salmon.

White Wine: A glass of crisp white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, pairs beautifully with salmon, enhancing its flavors while contrasting the creaminess of the Florentine sauce.

Fresh Fruit Salad: A dessert of fresh fruit salad can provide a sweet, light ending to a rich meal, balancing the flavors and cleansing the palate.

Try these seafood recipes:

Pan-seared salmon fillets on a bed of orzo and spinach in a skillet.

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A plate of salmon orzo Florentine featuring two seasoned salmon fillets atop a bed of orzo mixed with spinach, labeled as an easy one-pot dinner.

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Three pieces of grilled salmon on a bed of orzo and spinach, served on a blue plate.
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Salmon Florentine Orzo

Salmon with lemon orzo is a light and refreshing dish, featuring flaky salmon fillets served over a bed of creamy orzo pasta, delicately flavored with fresh lemon zest and herbs.
Cuisine American
Keyword best seafood, easy pasta recipes, easy salmon, healthy salmon recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 366kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell
Cost $12

Ingredients

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp salt divided
  • 1 tsp black pepper divided
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • freshly ground black pepper for serving
  • chili flakes for serving

Instructions

  • Get your prep done before you start cooking: Grate the Parmesan cheese, finely chop the onion and mince the garlic cloves. Pat the salmon fillets dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.
  • Heat oil and butter over medium high in a large nonstick pan or skillet. Add salmon fillets and sear, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and onion. Cook until soft and fragrant for about 2 minutes. Stir in thyme and the remaining salt and pepper. Add orzo and toast for 1 minute.
  • Pour in broth and bring to a boil. To maintain a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered while stirring occasionally to prevent the orzo from sticking, until almost al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 8 minutes.
  • Add spinach, stir and simmer until wilted for about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and Parmesan. Add more broth, if needed. Taste and adjust salt.
  • Return salmon to the skillet and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the salmon is heated through.
  • Top with freshly ground black pepper and chili flakes. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 366kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 245mg | Potassium: 1221mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 3773IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 142mg | Iron: 3mg

About Courtney

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2 Comments

  1. Katherine says:

    5 stars
    Super good!

  2. Katherine says:

    5 stars
    Delicious!